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First record of epizootics in the ocola skipper, Panoquina ocola (Lepidopera: Hesperiidae), caused by Isaria tenuipes in flooded rice fields of Central Brazil

Mascarin, G.M., Dunlap, C.A., Barrigossi, J.A.F., Quintela, E.D., de Noronha, N.C., Jr
Journal of applied microbiology 2017 v.122 no.4 pp. 1020-1028
Cordyceps, Hesperiidae, Isaria, biopesticides, conidia, epizootic diseases, fungi, insect pests, nucleotide sequences, paddies, pathogens, phylogeny, pupae, rice, surveys, synnemata, teleomorphs, tubulin, Brazil
AIMS: We report the first occurrence of an epizootic of the ascomycete fungus, Isaria tenuipes (teleomorph Cordyceps takaomontana), on the ocola skipper Panoquina ocola (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae), an insect pest affecting rice in Brazil. METHODS AND RESULTS: Field surveys in flooded rice fields in the state of Goiás in Brazil were conducted, and a fungal pathogen of a caterpillar pest (P. ocola) was serendipitously found. This fungus inflicted high infection levels (average 86·2%) mainly to the pupal stage during warm, humid growing conditions. Typically, mycosed pupal cadavers produced milky‐white to pale yellow synnemata bearing an average of 1·1 ± 0·2 × 10⁹ conidia per cadaver. Based on phylogenetic analysis using beta‐tubulin gene sequences, we confirmed that all 12 isolates obtained from field‐mummified pupae were identifiable as I. tenuipes. CONCLUSIONS: Our data expand our knowledge on the host and geographical ranges of this mycopathogen and underscore its epizootic potential to affect a lepidopterous insect pest on rice in Brazil. This finding may facilitate the exploitation of this fungus as a mycoinsecticide. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: Isaria tenuipes may be used as an effective and environmentally friendly bioinsecticide against agricultural caterpillar pests due to its epizootic potential, as well as explored for medicinal purposes by pharmaceutical industry.